Monday, 1 August 2016

The Russians Are Coming!

Today is the first day of Blaugust. Last year I shadowed the event. I didn't sign up because a) I don't like filling out forms and b) I didn't want the prizes. I just posted every day to see if I could.

And I could, or so it seemed. At least, I managed a post every day last August. It wasn't unpleasant or even particularly onerous but when I started thinking about whether to do it again this year I soon realized it was an experiment I wasn't keen to repeat.

Of course, because Bhelgast is running a chilled-out version this time around, with no prizes and no specific requirements for posting, there was no reason not to sign up other than laziness. And being disorganized. And a) above, again.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I didn't. I haven't. But thinking about it did set me off looking at my blogging stats. They are weird.

July 2016 was my "best" month ever. Over 28,000 page views. It didn't start out like that. Half way through the month it looked as though there was going to be a summer slump. Then the spikes began.

The first half of the month is what I would call genuine traffic. It runs between 500 and 600 page views a day. Steady. Unspectacular.

With five years of posts in the bank these days most of my traffic comes from various flavors of Google. All of the blogs that used to feature on my Top 10 referrals have now vanished except for Keen and Graev, who still send me a lot of visitors.

Then around the middle of the month everything went nuts. There are two huge spikes on the 21st and 27th with several lesser but still large hits before and after. What's going on?

It would be nice to think that I'd been quoted on some forum or linked on reddit or something  - these things happen periodically and often cause a sudden surge of interest in a particular post. It's always possible to track these hits back through Blogger's stats.

I often know if Syp has included one of my posts in his Massively OP "Global Chat" column before I even read it just by seeing "MassivelyOP" pop up in the referral list, for example. In this case there was no clue what was causing the flurry of page hits.

It wasn't my shameless coat-tail riding of the Pokemon GO phenomenon. That certainly kept the coals glowing, bringing in a no doubt confused and disappointed trickle of Pokemaniacs all month. Nearly three times as many as any other post in July, although that's as nothing compared to the post on building a raft in Black Desert from earlier in the year, which is now my most-viewed post ever.


No, as far as I can ascertain this is probably "referrer spam". This stuff used to show up in the stats so at least you could tell which bots were artificially inflating your numbers but now it seems to leave no trace. Apart, that is, from in the "Audience" section.

Russia is a big territory for MMOs. They play a lot of them over there. They even make some of their own. EQ2 had dedicated Russian servers until just recently. What's more, I know for certain fact, because I was once able to trace and visit the website, that Inventory Full posts have been cloned, copied and used as content in the past by at least one Russian MMO news agency.

I've also been linked on Russian gaming forums and had traffic that way so some visits from that part of the world are to be expected and welcomed. Not, however, half of an entire month's traffic in ten days. This is evidence of some bot farm operation or some other nefarious unseen activity.

This is the sort of thing that makes it so hard to work out just how many readers you really have. There's a ridiculous difference between my paltry fifteen subscribers (why is that number so low and what is a "subscriber" anyway?) and my topline figure of more than 28,000 monthly visits.

My guesstimate is that this blog has maybe 250-300 regular readers It perhaps gets a few thousand casual but interested clickers-by each month on top of that. The Google Analytics report, which I look at a couple of times a year, if that, generally shows a lower number of page visits but an encouraging amount of time spent at the site once people find it. Why those figures differ from the Blogger ones when both are supplied by Google is a mystery to me.

In the end there's not a lot of point worrying about it or worrying away at it to find out what's going on. Like many hobby bloggers I tend to evaluate success by the number of comments and the liveliness of discussion below the line.

Still, I would love to know what's actually going on over there in Russia. I do get quite a lot of hits from Yandex.ru, Russia's homegrown version of Google. Those are probably real. Who are those people? Are any of them reading this right now?

And I'd like to know why I get an ever-increasing number of hits from Google Images - over a hundred and fifty from Images.Google.fr and Images.Google.de last month alone. Are they searching for pictures of ratongas or asurans posing against dramatic backdrops? If so, how are they doing that? I would too, if I knew.

I'll probably never find out. But if anyone has any light to shed, well, you know where the comment section is!



25 comments:

  1. Ah, the Russian invaders. They've visited my place, too. Exact same period, same kind of numbers. Exchange Inventory Full for Ravalation and Bhagpuss for Rav and I could've written this post. :O

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    1. Did they still have snow on their boots?

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  2. No Russians at my end of things... or none in those numbers. I did have an influx of Czechs about a month back. That, however, was related to a forum post on the main Czech EVE Online site.

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    1. I don't think I've ever seen the Czech Republic feature in my stats at all. We used to play regularly in EQ with a guy from Slovenia though.

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  3. Any progress on correcting the commenting errors that have been cropping up recently? I don't think it effects old time readers and commenters that much, since they are in the habit. But repeated errors might discourage new commenters from getting involved.

    If it's on Google's end though, then that is a little worrying. They have abandoned products in the past. One of the dangers of storing all your writing and data with a third party source.

    - Simon

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    1. Nope. It started at a time when I'd made no changes to the blog whatsoever. I can't find any trace of anyone else having the same problems and no adjustments I've made have affected it at all. I'm open to suggestions.

      If Blogger does close down (unlikely but possible) I will port to Wordpress. There's a straightforward package to do that. From what I hear WP won't be much better though.

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    2. Could be browser specific then. I'm using the new Vivaldi browser here. Though it does use the Chromium engine, there have been problems with other sites (for example, Battle.net).

      - Simon

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    3. Just had a few failed attempts at commenting (below), using firefox on windows10.

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    4. That's interesting because that's exactly what I use myself to post and answer comments and I have increasing problems. Let's try Microsoft Edge for this reply...

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    5. Giving Chrome a try...

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    6. Chrome messed up too, so it looks like it's not a conspiracy by Google to favour their own browser.

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  4. Huh! Now that you made me look it seems to affect me as well, at least to some extent. 13% of all visits that I've had from Russia since the launch of the blog happened last week...

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    1. What are they up to? Probably best not to ask...

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  5. I should make one of my upcoming blaugust posts "pokemon go russia" then :P

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    1. Apparently Pokemon are seen as a Threat to the Nation in Russia...

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  6. Add another post on "pokemon go asia" for Blaugust pageviews you'll never be able to match again ;)

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  7. You should also be commenting on that Dominican republic number no? 153 from that small island?

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    Replies
    1. Hmm. That is odd. /wave Dominican Republic. Anyone there?

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. My basically dead blogger blog has similar traffic patterns. Loads of russians, but also a lot of USA traffic in the last few days. Its probably all spam, as the top hits are or posts back in 2008.

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  10. I have one particular zombie post on Neverwinter from May 2013 that continually gets hits for absolutely no reason I can fathom. it's my second most viewed post ever and it is still ticking along. I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago.

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  11. My guess would be that it's some hodge-podge of referrer spam, content farming, and Russian sites hotlinking your images. When I used Blogger, I would get 150 page views per day when posting nothing and surmised it was due to keyword searches. One day there was a spike of 2,200 views - perhaps a script gone haywire. Blogger seems to offer rather fickle page view and Audience numbers.

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